State regulators today gave their official consent to adding the 984 area code in the dozen North Carolina counties that currently use 919.
The N.C. Utilities Commission's approval sets March 31 as the date on which the second area code is adopted.
The commission order, issued today, also clears the way for phone companies in the state to make preparations to get their customers used to the idea of a second area code along with the necessity of 10-digit dialing for local calls.
Callers will have the option to use 10-digit dialing six months before it becomes required on March 31.
The N.C. Telecommunications Industry Association will coordinate public education and implementation efforts as the industry prepares to add a second area code.
The Raleigh-based association earlier this month had suggested April 30 as the date to add the 984 area code, but the utilities commission picked March 31 instead.
The region needs a second area code to accommodate the proliferation of cell phones and a growing population. The area served by the 919 area code was expected to run out of phone numbers next year unless a second area code was added.
Charlotte added a second area code a decade ago and some regions of the country have expanded to three area codes.